When a family with young diners is considering going out for a meal, a wise choice is breakfast or brunch. The sounds of the clinking coffee cups, plate-juggling, order-taking waitresses, colliding dishes in the busing bins and overall din of the diners is sure to mask the howls and screeches coming from your table. And lucky for you, the Twin Cities has an abundance of tasty cafes, bakeries and breakfast spots.
Here are the top picks based on menu choices, toys at the table or other apt distractions, level of noise and/or space and location. This list is simply a sampling of the many wonderful restaurants in the metro area that cater to families. At the end of this list, I have included a couple of romantic brunch locations, just in case mom and dad can sneak away for a mid-morning date sometime.
1928 University Ave. NE
Minneapolis, MN 55418
Jax Café is a special treat brunch locale. Reservations are a must. There are great tables of fresh salads, cheeses, fruits, roasted veggies, pastries, hot breakfast and lunch entrees and desserts, as well as a carving station and made-to-order omelet bar. The holiday brunches are priced a bit higher than regular brunches, but they also serve additional holiday fare for those meals. During the months of the year that are not frozen and frigid, the kids enjoy going out back to see the water wheel and stream with live fish. While the décor may not look kid-friendly, there are always many children scampering about, trying to make off with one more cookie from the dessert table, watching the omelets be made or running back to the patio to see the fish.
Butter Baker Café
3544 Grand Ave.
Minneapolis, MN 55408
This tiny eatery serves brunch every day of the week from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m., which those of us who aren't morning people have to appreciate. Butter has a lovely kids menu with a number of options, all for $2 each. One that is sure to please many a child; oatmeal with M&Ms. For the mamas and papas, Butter serves up a daily brunch special for $4.50 plus a variety of other modestly priced dishes from scrambled eggs with a cheese and meat mixed in to biscuits and gravy to pancakes with pure maple syrup and a handful of other gems. Need another reason to head to Butter? They've got Peace coffee brewing all day, including the Butter blend. Butter also has a delicious array of baked goods that are available throughout the day. There's a box of toys, games and books, mostly mismatched and some broken, but somehow those details never seem to matter to the kiddos. Bonus: Go to Butter's website for a free cookie coupon. Your little one is sure to be thrilled about that.
Original Pancake House
Locations in Eden Prairie, Edina, Maple Grove and Wayzata
OPH is always busy and doesn't take reservations, but you can call on your way out the door and get your name put on a shorter, faster list. This sounds like a recipe for disaster with young kids, but there's free coffee and a TV, usually tuned in to a sporting event, in the lobby area. The wait never seems to take as long as they warn you when you check in at the counter, but even if it does, the food is worth it. The hot chocolate with sides of fresh whipped cream and mini chocolate chips is a favorite with the small fries, as well as the chocolate chip pancakes. One tip: Order a bowl of fresh berries to be brought to the table right away. With the distraction of strawberries, blackberries, blueberries and raspberries to dunk in powdered sugar and cream and a kids menu to draw pictures on while slurping hot chocolate through a straw, your kids will be quietly occupied, which will give you time to drink a cup of coffee or two in peace before the hot cakes and hash browns arrive at the table. The service is fast and friendly with a hot pot of coffee ever at the ready.
2803 W. 43rd St.
Minneapolis, MN 55410
It may be small, but the staff at this local Linden Hills eatery know how to comfortably seat, serve and please a family with ease. They have small cases of toys for each table with youngsters filled with little figures and vehicles. No matter how many times you go, the kids are always excited to find out which toys are in their box. For the kiddos, the teddy bear pancake is a hit. While the adults can indulge in Huevos Zumbrosos, the Eggs Benedict special of the day or French Toast, to name a few. The coffee simply does not get better than this. It's a special blend made just for Zumbro by Bull Run Roasting Co. An after brunch stroll through the Linden Hills shops and perhaps down to Lake Harriet is a must after filling up on these scrumptious dishes. Weekend brunch is served 7:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday; while breakfast is served Tuesday through Friday from 7:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m.
931 Nicollet Mall
Minneapolis, MN 55402
This downtown Irish pub may seem like an unlikely choice for a family brunch location, but it's actually a great time to visit the beautifully appointed tavern. The pancakes are delicious and if someone in your party feels like having fish 'n' chips for brunch, by golly he can. There is a kids menu and the staff is ever willing to please even the youngest member of the party. The crayons and TVs tuned to a sporting event help to distract the little ones while waiting for their meals.
4552 Grand Ave, S.
Minneapolis, MN 55419
Patisserie's pastries and goodies are as beautiful as they are tasty. As you sit noshing on a melt-in-your-mouth croissant filled with ham and Gruyere, you will notice that the staff is constantly adding new tasty tidbits from the kitchen. This causes one to have to get in line multiple times and keep buying a thing or two more to split among the family for a taste of something new. I like to think of it as a culinary culture adventure. Many of the bakery items blend the taste of France with that of Kentucky; an unlikely, but divine combination, reflecting the childhood and experience of the chef, John Kraus. The only downside about this option is that the weekends are extremely busy, making it difficult to even snag a table. Alas, I've come up with a solution. While you will miss out on the lovely bits and pieces that continually make their way from the kitchen to the display case, if you wish to get away from the throngs of people who make their weekly pilgrimage to Patisserie, just get your pastries to go and take them to Lake Harriet for a picnic brunch. You can't beat the scenery there.
St. Clair Broiler
1580 Saint Clair Ave
St. Paul, MN 55105
The St. Clair Broiler is a loud, busy diner that's been around for over 50 years. That alone tells you they're doing something right. It's a great place for a loud, busy family to slow down and eat a stack of slapjacks. The menu is full of tasty breakfast classics. The service is fast and efficient. What more can a family ask for.
Bonus: Date Brunch Locales Without The Kiddos
Nicollet Island Inn
95 Merriam St.
Minneapolis, MN 55401
This Sunday brunch is not for the faint of heart. It's a big, fancy, drawn out affair, replete with five courses. The wait staff is attentive, knowledgeable and friendly. The food is delicious and beautifully prepared. The dining rooms are warm and cozy regardless of the season outside. If a date night is difficult with your schedules, try having a date brunch on a Sunday morning at this romantic spot.
3804 Grand Ave. S.
Minneapolis, MN 55409
The ambiance of Grand Café is reminiscent of a French Café in the heart of Paris. Its old world charm adds a touch of romance to a lazy brunch of eggs en cocotte, brioche French toast two lattes in giant cups and a newspaper shared between the two of you.
-- Anna Berend is an attorney and the author of Motherly Law Blog. On Motherly Law, Anna writes about legal issues that affect families and offers tips and resources that pertain to those legal topics. On occasion, inspiration strikes and Anna writes about something totally unrelated to the law. Originally a Texan, Anna now resides in the Twin Cities with her husband, two young sons and a menagerie of pets. You can find Anna at www.motherlylaw.com, on Facebook at Motherly Law and on Twitter @MotherlyLaw.
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